CMPA Tips: Social networks in healthcare
Using social networks in healthcare: Tips from the CMPA
Healthcare social networks enable worldwide connection, communication, and collaboration – and offer benefits to both patients and physicians. Unlike telemedicine and ePrescribing, healthcare social networks are typically available to anyone on the Internet. This open environment can lead to an increase in your medical-legal risk.
Before you begin using a healthcare social network in your practice, consider these tips* to help reduce your risk.
Tips to reduce your risk when using healthcare social networks
- When offering a clinical comment or opinion ensure your advice meets the relevant standards of care. You may owe the patient a duty of care – even if you never meet in-person.
- When offering advice that could be used outside of the country, emphasize that the information provided may be applicable in Canada only.
- Be cautious when relying on an online opinion to diagnose or treat your patient, particularly if the identity and reputation of the other individual are unknown.
- Document that you followed or rejected online advice. Include your rationale for accepting or rejecting a particular recommendation.
- When discussing a patient who is in your clinical practice, ensure the patient’s health information is not identifiable.
- If sharing identifiable personal health information, obtain the patient’s express consent (except in instances of patient-initiated requests for crowdsourcing).
- Consider using the CMPA’s photo and video consent form [PDF] as a way to obtain patient consent. Ensure you discuss and document the intended use of photos with your patient.
- When using social networks, keep in mind that you are governed by the same legal and professional standards that apply in a professional setting.
*For more tips and strategies, read “Social networks in healthcare: Opportunities and challenges for a connected future.”